DESOTO COUNTY, Fla. — As a result of the devastation that Hurricane Ian caused, all of the schools in DeSoto County will be closed for at least the next two weeks.
Since the day after Hurricane Ian made landfall in the state, according to DeSoto County High School Superintendent Dr. Bobby Bennett, repair personnel have been working there. It is possible that the school may be shuttered for up to two months.
The water damage to the school was considerable, and the roof was also damaged.
Students are left wondering when they will be able to return to the building while personnel are working inside to make repairs.
“Here, it’s been OK. But surrounding areas, it’s pretty bad. No power and no water,” parent Jermaine Wright said.
The Hurricane Ian did not do any significant damage to Wright and his family, but he is concerned about how his daughter will spend the next few weeks without attending school.
“It’s gonna be tough. It’s gonna be hard for kids to find things to do,” Wright said.
“Right now, we feel like we are on the road to recovery. We are optimistic,” Bennett said.
Bennett is responsible for around 4,500 children. As a result of the hurricane, numerous schools have experienced damage, so they have been shuttered until further notice.
“We want people to be healthy and safe. We’ll bring the school piece in and we’ll make up the learning loss,” Bennett said. “We’re not scared. We’re not gonna back off that piece. We’ll do it very aggressive once our kids are back in the buildings.”
The DeSoto County School District got footage from a drone that shows that the most damage was done to the high school.
“Hopefully we can get it quicker than the two months we were told yesterday,” Bennett said.
The school system is now coming up with other ideas that could be shared with DeSoto Middle School.
“We might have to have a schedule that brings middle schoolers in a little earlier than normal and dismisses them, and bring our high schoolers in for just a couple of hours a day,” Bennett said. “But we want to be able to have face-to-face contact with our kids.”
Wright is excited by the concept and is aware of the requirements.
“It’s gonna take time, I know, but the community is gonna help out,” Wright said.
Bennett has said that his objective is to have children returning to at least the other schools by the 21st of October.
Bennett said that there are just too many people who still do not have access to electricity, but that virtual learning is something that might become an option in the future.
Every Monday, Bennett will post updates on the situation on the website of the school system, as well as on its Facebook page, and he will send callouts to the parents.